INDEPENDENCE – Looking back at the game on Tuesday night, Mike Lynch could point to where things started to fall apart.
“We let down for about 11 minutes in the second half, and that’s when they scored the three goals. I think if we don’t have that mental lapse, for those 11 minutes, it’s a one-nil or a one-one match,” said the head coach of the Central High School girls soccer team.
It’s been an up-and-down season so far for the Panthers (1-5-2 overall, 0-1 MWC), and Tuesday evening found the team tasked with trying to stave off the No. 1 ranked team in the league – the South Albany RedHawks (8-0 overall, 1-0 MWC), a feat that resulted in a 4-0 loss.
The team may have lost, but to the girls who played, it was whether or not they performed well that mattered the most.
“I think we really pushed to the best of our abilities, and we had a lot more confidence, and we’re together a lot better as a team,” said senior Kendra Hastings.
The Panthers knew this game was going to be a battle.
“We expect aggressiveness, they always come out 100 percent when it comes to aggressiveness, and obviously good competition, but we don’t put it over us,” said junior Izzy Bennett. “We believe that it doesn’t matter what score they’ve had when we played them before; it’s a new game every day.”
Prior to the glitch in defense during the second half, the Panthers held the RedHawks to just one goal in the first half.
Things got messy after half time, but instead of bending to the pressure, the Panthers continued to fight, digging deep to finish out the game – one that wasn’t looking to end in their favor – strong.
“Our nerves were higher, so we might mess up once or twice, but we always come back,” Bennett said.
Is the team where it wants to be?
Lynch says no.
“We’re slowly building,” he said. “It’s going to take another year or two to be where we want to be, but these ladies have a lot of heart, and they play hard. They don’t give up and they play for each other.”